Alexandria 5th grade tacklebar football players take in experience at U.S. Bank Stadium

50 5th-grade tacklebar football players from Alexandria played a 55-minute scrimmage at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 16, while the Minnesota Vikings were on the road. This Alexandria team was one of many from around the state who got the chance to play on Sunday.

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Members of the Alexandria 5th-grade tacklebar football team pose for a photo after playing a scrimmage at U.S. Bank Stadium on Oct. 16, 2022.
Contributed photo by Monica Peterson
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While the Minnesota Vikings were on the road taking on the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Oct. 16, 50 fifth-graders from the Alexandria Tacklebar Football team were on the Vikings’ home turf at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis to play football for 55 minutes.

“They were wide-eyed on the first few plays,” coach Tyson Swaggert said. “As coaches, we really wanted to say, ‘We're going play as much football as we can in 55 minutes.’ We got 77 plays in. Everyone played at least 30 snaps, so they all got an opportunity to play. We had so many kids, so we’re just going to scrimmage ourselves. For a lot of them that was the first time in a big stadium or in U.S. Bank Stadium.”

Many of the kids are fans of Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson and to be able to play football in the same stadium he does, meant a lot to them.

Swaggert said they heard about the opportunity from an event planner in New York. Swaggert said coach Jeremiah Swor was contacted by JJ Kern of the Midwest Premiere Football League about the opportunity that a company called Playbook was hosting.

The event overall went eight hours with teams from all over the state, playing for 55 minutes.


Swaggert said it took a community effort to make the trip happen. Parents volunteered their time to take photos, officiate the scrimmage, move the chains and there were trainers there as well.

The group was able to travel together in a bus that Zorbaz paid for.

“It was a huge community undertaking,” Swaggert said. “It wasn't just one person organizing this. It was a total group effort. It was fun to see a community getting around these kids to have an awesome experience.”

Swaggert said that the first through fourth grade flag football programs through community education in the area have been great.

“The program has just been building every year; more and more kids are seeing how fun it is,” he said. “Then in fifth grade, they do tacklebar. Our numbers are just huge. We had 66 kids out and that's a testament to what we've been doing through the community. It's just creating a buzz and all the kids talking about their opportunity and we are hoping for more of that in the future. We want to give kids more chances like this in the future.”

Tacklebar is an added safety measure designed to help athletes learn proper tackling form and keep them from leading with their head on a tackle. It has been in the Alexandria community since the fall of 2017. Players wear foam bars and opposing players lead with their shoulder, wrapping up the ball carrier, and ripping off the foam bars instead of tackling.

“It’s a progression to get to tackle football in seventh grade,” Swaggert said. “We were the only team down there doing tacklebar and it looks exactly like football, but we're not driving kids into the ground.”

Swaggert said that fifth and sixth grade tacklebar football has been a success in the community.


“We've had huge success with that and our numbers are growing because of it,” he said. “I think our program is going in the right direction and it's about getting kids involved in a fun sport.”

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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